• by Alex Ames • Knowledge is Power • May 5, 2022 •

Editor’s Note: Georgia students testified against HB 1084 in the Georgia General Assembly. Below is the testimony presented by Alex Ames to the House Education Academic Innovation Subcommittee on February 9, 2022. The bill was signed into law on April 28, 2022.

Good afternoon senators. My name is Alex. My parents are public school teachers. I am a graduate of public schools. My siblings go there as well. When I left campus for several hours on Monday to testify against a bill very similar to this one, I heard the author – like this author – say that the bill is meant to get it in front of a major emergency proactively.

But I’ll tell you what actual kids in Georgia schools are experiencing. My friend Lily never had a teacher who looked like her until grade ten. My friend, Arwin, had teachers tell him that immigrants, like his family, didn’t belong in our country. My friend, Adduni, had one counselor for 700 kids.

And these are the actual emergencies facing all kids in Georgia schools, especially Black, immigrant and impoverished students, not mis-manufactured emergencies to excuse politicians meddling in the classroom. My white professor, a former legislator, showed us a video of a Klansman and other white supremacists holding a rally in Forsyth County in 1987. Did I feel bad as a white person learning this? I felt bad not because my skin looks like this, but because bad things happen to human beings.

I was also proud of my professor for standing up against the Klan in a counter-protest. Is it wrong for our children to learn what is right, to know that genocide and enslavement were, in fact, horrific?

How can we emphasize how far we have come as a country without acknowledging the truthful history of our state?

Under this bill, that lesson would be banned because it discusses systemic racism reinforced by our government and because the people who marched for white supremacy aren’t history, they are alive today. Censorship steals funds and opportunities from kids just trying to find their own opinions in the world.

For our sake, do not pass this bill. There are many other things you can do to support children. This is not one of them.

[©2022, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the May 5, 2022, edition of Knowledge is Power by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]